The Language of Narrative and the Recovery of Metanarrative: Part One

In the closing chapter of C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, (the story of Dr. Ransom’s adventure in Mars) the narrator explains that it was Dr. Ransom's idea, instead of publicizing this adventure in terms of fact, to relate it in the form of fiction: "It was Dr. Ransom who first saw that our only chance was to publish in the form of fiction what would certainly not be listened to as fact."The narrator goes on to quote Dr. Ransom: "...what we need for the moment is not so much a body of … [Read more...]

The Tyranny of Data

 Data science has been dubbed by Harvard Business Review as “the sexiest job in the 21st century” and by The New York Times as a “hot new field that promises to revolutionize industries, from business to government, health care to academia.” As the Times article explains, technology has given us access to gargantuan amounts of data, and companies, universities, and governments are rapidly hiring data scientists with the statistical and programming skills to make sense of “big data,” a ph … [Read more...]

Religion, Intelligence, and Socialization

The Independent just reported that “religious people are less intelligent.” Whatever remains of the “new atheist” crowd will argue that this study proves that education causes one to reject religion. Atheism is academic. Being enlightened or “bright” means you reject that dim-witted dogmatism of your fathers.The problem is, of course, that secularism has long been dominant in the academy. Take a group of impressionable young students— selected specifically for their intelligence—who care very … [Read more...]

Unequal Conversation Partners

In a recent post over at NPR, Adam Frank reviews Religion without God, Ronald Dworkin’s posthumously published book on religion. In his book, Dworkin attempts to expand the definition of religion beyond its traditional boundaries, arguing that you can be religious even if you don’t believe in God. For Frank, this innovative thesis shifts the ground on which science/religion debates take place.  A broader definition overcomes the apparent cultural rift between “evangelical vs. scientist, believer … [Read more...]

Because Science

In his book The Plot to Kill God, Paul Froese outlines the Soviet Union's unsuccessful campaign to exterminate religion, drawing out the lessons we can learn from the campaign about the possibility of secularity. In order to completely remove religion from the socio-cultural landscape, Soviet authorities oppressed religious leaders and practitioners, strangled religious institutions, replaced religious rituals with secular versions, and waged rhetorical war on the legitimacy of religious belief … [Read more...]

There’s So Much We Don’t Know

 A fantastic post on the NPR blog a little while back about the mystery that still surrounds the orgin of life. It is a good example of the kind of open ended questioning, the frank acknowledgment of ignorance before many questions, that we should see more of in scientific conversations: How did life first happen? How did it begin? We don't know. As Peter Godfrey Smith puts it, in his elegant review of Thomas Nagel's recent book: "We still know very little about how life began, and it i … [Read more...]